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NC State’s red zone efficiency is erasing its problems elsewhere

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a real simple thing you can do in order to make your day go better, in order to make the problems you run into for the majority of any given game feel minimized: score touchdowns when you get into the red zone.

NC State has been doing this to an impressive degree. On a dozen red-zone possessions, NC State has scored a touchdown 11 times. That’s good; that’s really good. The other time, NC State made a field goal—State hasn’t failed to score in the red zone this season.

In 2019, State managed 23 touchdowns and 17 field goals on 48 red zone trips. That red-zone touchdown rate ranked 115th; this year, the Pack ranks fourth in that category. It’s a little luck, sure, and definitely a little change in the playcalling, but it’s making the difference for a team that just cannot force a damned turnover to save its life. This is instead the way the team is saving its life.

This doesn’t seem sustainable, but then you’d think State’s utter lack of takeaways would be unsustainable also—and so screw all of this; if the universe is going to mess around and be stupid, then we may as well have ourselves a good time taking advantage where we can.